Category Archives: God

i LOVE this post

finally, it all makes sense, and totally breaks your heart at the same time.

http://www.conversiondiary.com/2009/04/why-did-jesus-have-to-die-for-our-sins.html

And to all those who did or would comment that that is not what happened, let me remind you that none of us know for sure so get off the high horse.

be warned: judgmental, ranting post

Appalled by two things right now:

1) the doctor irresponsible enough to give a woman with 6 children infertility treatments allowing her to have 8 more children! And the woman herself of course… I mean come on, this is ridiculous!

2) The ad I just saw during the superbowl. Show’s a woman having dinner with a horrible, self-centered man. Voice over says “imagine being on the worst blind date ever, and it lasting the rest of your life.” Then the man stands up, says “Happy anniversary” and leaves, the woman looks forlorn then glances around and winks at another man. The URL (that I had to look up due to curiosity killing me) led to a site all about how to have a discrete affair. So for the incredibly weak minded who marry idiots, stay married to idiots, then think it’s okay to have an affair because they feel sorry for themselves…go for it. I’m disgusted beyond belief.

One of those times I desperately hope there is a God, and one who will be all “WTF” when these people get to the pearly gates, and kick them back where they belong.

dear god

Dear God,

Thank you.

Thank you for giving me the ability to love.

For instilling in me the courage to love again.

Thank you for helping me to remember those whom I should love more openly.

Thank you for being the constant example of how to love.

Even when I didn’t think it was what I needed,

You knew I could do it.

You trusted me, and I thank you.

I’m overjoyed reflecting in what the seeds of that love have sowed.

Thank you for never letting me forget how important it is to open my heart.

The examples are endless,

The results mean everything to me.

Thank you

abundance of caution

Ok, this I love, from the Houston Chronicle:

Chief Justice John Roberts has administered the presidential oath of office to Barack Obama for a second time, just to be on the safe side.

The unusual step came after Roberts flubbed the oath a bit on Tuesday, causing Obama to repeat the wording differently than as prescribed in the Constitution.

“We decided it was so much fun …,” Obama joked while sitting on a couch in the Map Room. Obama stood and walked over to make small talk with pool reporters as Roberts donned his black robe.

“Are you ready to take the oath?” Roberts asked.

“I am, and we’re going to do it very slowly,” Obama replied.

After a flawless recitation that included no Bible and took 25 seconds, Roberts smiled and said, “Congratulations, again.”

Obama said, “Thank you, sir,” and then added: “All right. The bad news for the (reporters) is there’s 12 more balls.”…

White House counsel Greg Craig said Obama took the oath from Roberts again out of an “abundance of caution.”

Don’t you wish that God had done that – just that extra bit of clarification to make sure we really got it? He had the chance. He comes down with the whole Jesus thing, then 600 years later he’s talking to Muhammad, why not take that opportunity to clarify things? You’d think he’d treat his only son with an “abundance of caution”. Think of wars we would have avoided, the conflicts erased! C’est la vie…let the debates draaaaaag on…

defining christianity

There is so much out there I want to write about, it’s overwhelming!

I’ll start with my usual, because Crunchy Con had a blog post on it today and it’s a topic that intrigues me…am I a Christian, and more broadly, what defines a Christian?

Crunchy con’s post was about our president elect and statements he had made, in particular:

Quote from Barack Obama: “Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he’s also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher.
And he’s also a wonderful teacher. I think it’s important for all of us, of whatever faith, to have teachers in the flesh and also teachers in history.”

And Crunchy con’s reaction:

“Unless Obama was being incredibly and uncharacteristically inarticulate, this is heterodox. You cannot be a Christian in any meaningful sense and deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. You just can’t.”

This is my same dilemma of course and normally I would have agreed with the philosophy that someone who does not believe in the divine nature of Jesus, does not believe in the trinity and does not believe that Jesus is the son of god was by definition not a Christian. Hmmmm, does that mean that the early Christians were indeed not Christian? Many of them did not believe what I’ve stated here. Is a Christian defined by what the majority of the religions called Christian believe about one person (that would be Jesus)? An obvious answer is yes, of course. And by that definition I’m happy to admit I’m not a Christian. But, I do hope that Jesus was the son of God, I do hope that He sacrificed his only son so that our sins could be forgiven. It would be an amazing, loving truth – but I can’t say that I know for sure. I can’t say the all the creeds and memorization stuff because I actually want to believe it and won’t say it until I’m sure. Does Christianity reject me as one of it’s own? It’s okay if they do, I’m just asking.

But what if, just if, it’s not all true – what if Jesus wasn’t the actual son of God, wasn’t divine? Would that negate his message? Would that make everyone who believed that’s what he was a non-Christian and all the rest of us doubters the real Christians? I don’t believe so. Who gets to define what a Christian is?

Why can’t someone like me, someone who believes in the amazing nature of a man (yes a man) named Jesus be a Christian? What takes precedence, acting Christian or believing Christian? Maybe the Christians should adopt the Don’t ask, don’t tell policy…

This an on-going question for me and isn’t easy, because as you know my mantra: if it’s easy, you’re doing it wrong! (that includes spelling by the way). I’d love to hear your thoughts!

May God bless you with as many margaritas as you can handle!

Ike’s prayer

As I was lying in bed listening to the winds of Ike howl around my house, I reflected on prayer. Most likely because I was doing a lot of it. You could clearly hear the big gusts of wind as they came around the house and bent the trees. At the sound of this wind, I could feel the anxiety well up in me and my stomach would get that feeling like coming down off a roller coaster…not a good one in my opinion. This happened every few minutes and even putting the headphones in to listen to the battery powered radio could not drown out the sound of the wind.

I was praying to God rather generically for “things” to be okay. But, as my children were not with me (they were at their father’s house) I also prayed for their well being; for my house; for my other family members in town. Now, prayer of this personal favor nature has never felt right to me. Who was I to ask for God to protect what was precious to me? Wasn’t everyone in Ike’s path that night making the same silent entreaty? Probably; I had no right to expect these favors and really no right to even ask it. I’m not of the belief that God personally intervenes to grant us our petty wants – because we don’t and can’t know God’s nature, we can’t assume what matters to us also matters to him.

So, what I did do in the early hours of that morning, when you realize that EVERYTHING is out of your control, is thank God. I thanked him for giving me the ability to be calm in the face of danger, for giving me the intellectual capacity to prepare and make sure my family and home were as safe as I could make them, for blessing me with so many wonderful things that I would do anything to not lose them, and for giving me the confidence to know that even if I did lose all of them all was not lost.

I was very fortunate in Ike, my home was not damaged and my family was safe. What more could I ask for? Electricity!… but that’s another story. By thanking rather than asking I was able to calm the waves of panic and accept that there was nothing I could do. Which oddly made me feel more in control – I was thinking in future terms, mentally planning and keeping my brain occupied not with fear but with the future, with a positive perspective.

I will never again pray the same way. We could all stand to be a little more thankful and a little less selfish.

A few days later (and still without electricity by the way)…
I’ve reflected on what I wrote here and wanted to add that this type of prayer applies to prayer for others. And it’s for the same reason, only God knows what’s best for those I’m praying for. My asking for a job to work out, a marriage to mend, etc. is what I think will make them happy. But may actually turn out to be the absolute wrong thing in the long run. So now the prayer is for them to use their God-given courage, intellect, kindness, and confidence to shape their lives for the positive.

falling from grace

“Ancient Greek religious art does not portray myth as is widely supposed, but rather the history of the human race told from the standpoint of the way of Kain. Like the Book of Genesis, Greek artists traced back their ancestors to a first couple in an ancient paradise with a serpent-entwined apple tree-only they believed that the serpent enlightened, rather than deluded, that first couple…”

I don’t even remember where this quote came from now, but it hit home for me for this reason: every time in my life that I have experienced a major pain, a major “fall”, I have grown spiritually and intellectually from that experience. It has been something that as I look back I realize gave me such insight and wisdom that I would not trade it now even if I had the power to.

Why wouldn’t that also be true for Adam and Eve? How can anyone learn anything living a perfect life in a Garden of Eden? If you want for nothing, not even knowledge you might as well be dead. Curiosity seems to me to be our blessing and it’s what opened up Adam and Eve to a harder but far more interesting and fulfilling journey….symbolically speaking of course 🙂

don’t read this if you’re an amputee

http://www.whydoesgodhateamputees.com/index.htm

Not something I’ve had the time to read in depth (and not sure I want to). But definitely looks like it will raise my blood pressure. Another group worried about proving that God does not exist. Just as flawed as those who believe they can prove God does exist.

If either one were that easy folks, it would have been done by now….

Thank You vs. Thankful

I had a particularly joy filled morning the other day. Now joy and morning are not two words that normally go together with me, but the kids were being angels and I was looking forward to my day at work. I found myself saying “thank you” to God as I drove to work. Everytime I do this I pause. Why am I telling God thank you? I don’t believe that God intervenes directly in our lives and that he made everything in my life just this way for my purposes. But it did feel right to say it; I felt that someone somewhere deserved a thanks for my blessings.

So what I’ve come to understand for me is that I’m not saying Thank You in the traditional sense – where someone has done something for me and I’m showing my gratitude. I’m merely telling God how thankful I am to have what I have in my life. Recognition perhaps that everything I am and have is ultimately due to his loving me – a much bigger thank you than “thanks for the cool job” or that the kids were so well behaved this morning. It goes back to that familiar feeling that I can never really do enough to repay God for how wonderful I feel most of the time. Even when Shit happens as it does, my overall life experience is wonderful and I am turely thankful for that.

When I have this feeling of thankfulness, the need to give back kicks in quite strongly and I find myself making more donations than usual. We tend to give when we feel we’ve received so much for no apparent reason.

leaving the staircase

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks – I’ve started my new job which I love but which has also taken up a lot of my time. It’s also taken my mind off of God for a while, which is probably a good thing. It’s tiring to think about something that heavy all the time. I’m not sure how ministers and priests to do that full time.

I had an opportunity at the last Quaker meeting to continue my reflections on the staircase. This past Sunday was very odd indeed. I closed my eyes and did my usual visualization. I was feeling quite impatient for some reason. I saw myself on the stark white stairs again with the blinding white light. I was just standing there not moving – sort of thinking what to do. And then I just sprinted up the stairs and flew open the door at the top.

It was a dark, empty room. No light, no whatever I was expecting to see by charging up there. I sat down in the room, feeling very frustrated. I became aware of another presence on the staircase – someone had been following me. Before I looked I knew who it was – Jesus.

Great. Just great. The one guy I can’t get my head around at all is following me. I was annoyed and told him so. I started ranting at him basically – telling him I didn’t know who he was, what to make of him, I just wanted to find God, etc….

He, of course, just smiled and said nothing. But he did motion that I follow him and he started walking back down the staircase. Reluctantly I followed. I didn’t really want to leave the room, like if I hung around God would be right back from the grocery store or something. But I also knew how ridiculous that was and that this Jesus representation was not leading me in the wrong direction. He knew best.

So we go to the bottom of what was really a very short staircase and he opened the door. Outside it was a sunny, beautiful day. It opened out into a sort of park with beautiful green grass and trees and birds. People were walking around. It’s where I was supposed to be. Not off by myself pursing a God that I had no idea how to find.

What the Jesus figure was showing me is what I knew to be true, that I would only find it by re-engaging in the world with people and making myself open and vulnerable to them not just to God where I perceived it to be “safe”.

When I turned back around he was gone. And so is my staircase for now.

Ironically the two people who spoke at the meeting that day (after my staircase vision) spoke of the importance of being part of a community and giving back to people in the community of not isolating yourself. I got the message loud and clear!

giving back to God and kerygma

A friend has recently explained the word kerygma to me. Which, to use his words, means a message in us that we are likely to preach over and over again. In seminary he learned that this message would also affect how they read the Bible. I’ve been thinking about this in relation to myself. You know, reflecting again ;). I thought about the manta on the blog – the concept of if something’s easy your doing it wrong. Or to put it another way, everything worth doing will be a challenge. And, I’ve realized that in general I expect things (especially things that are meaningful to me) to be a struggle.

Recently this has backfired on me. I have a lot of very good things going on in my life right now. Kids are well, wonderful man in my life, new exciting job, etc. It has gotten to the point however where I found myself stressing over what “bad” thing was going to happen. I mean, how could everything be so good so easily right? Although some would rightly point out the getting to this point wasn’t easy. I’ve done this my whole life. I used to call them stress fantasies – where I would imagine horrible things happening, because if I worried about it that would somehow fend it off. I know, it’s crazy.

So yesterday, I was rereading the email about kerygma and contemplating how really happy I was and realized that I had to put an end to this cycle of negative stress fantasies. I had gone from accepting a struggle to expecting a struggle to actually needing it, which is never healthy. But how? My mantra or kerygma hasn’t changed. I do believe that typically things will be challenging if they are worth having. But how could I continue to accept the really wonderful things in life that I had been blessed with without the negative thoughts?

A C. S. Lewis quote about “giving back to God” came to mind. When I first read this line, I had no idea what this meant. But it did seem that if I could somehow take the burden of all these good things off me then perhaps I could also shed the expectation of the corresponding bad thing.

But how was one to give back to God? Was I to thank Him for these good things? That doesn’t work for me since I don’t see God as handing out favors. Was I to thank God for the talents he gave me that allowed me to accomplish these things? Thus admitting everything truly came from him. Well, ok, but still that didn’t feel like giving; it felt like patting myself on the back more than anything. I pictured myself “offering” these blessings back to God. It looked awkward to say the least!

Perhaps, yet again, I was being too literal with God. After all, if He’s perfect He doesn’t need me to give Him things, just to lighten my burden. But to truly give back to Him I should give to others, His other creations. Share my joy, my happiness with others. By being happy, by caring, by giving others hope in some way. This for me feels like a very real way I can take my blessings and spread them around. And the best part for me and my kerygma is that it won’t be easy. I will have to seek out ways to give, ways to use all this positive energy I have right now to negate negativity.

notes from the edge of the river – IV the universe

These writings were from my solo vacation to a little red caboose cabin near Bandera, Texas this past week. A long weekend of relaxing, reflection and exploration.

There’s nothing like staring at the stars to get one’s mind turning to thoughts of how the heck this universe came into being. By 7pm (pre daylight savings) it is too dark in the hill country of Texas to do much outside. So I’m in for the evening. Luckily the owners of the caboose had quite a selection of videos to choose from – yes the VHS kind. I decided on Stephen Hawking’s “Universe”. Truly amazing; watching things like this always reignites my love of science and my awe at people whose minds can figure this stuff out.

For those who believe in a strict constructionist approach to the Bible Mr. Hawking’s theories would be blasphemy. It detailed the big bang theory, dark matter and questions on how the universe might end. The planet Earth was a miniscule part of this discussion as it was just one of hundreds of thousands of mass in the universe. It made the biblical original of earth seem almost ludicrous. If God created this amazing expanse, why focus so much time and energies on Earth? Then again, who knows what God theories exist on other planets!

It made me ponder the divine intervention concept, one, as you know, I don’t particularly believe in. But why would God go through so much trouble (at least I assume it wasn’t easy) to create all this just to ignore it? Maybe, I thought, the evolution of life on earth was a fluke. You picture God playing around with matches or something, suddenly there’s a big bang and next thing you know He’s got kids to look after. 😉

Ok, I’m only 1/2 kidding. But I do wonder about this creation theory. The accidental nature of it isn’t a new theory. The Gnostics believed that it was either created accidentally or maliciously by an “evil” deity. I could understand then why God would want to take human form. To see what it was all about to understand his creations better. Maybe he comes back as every species at some point.

Back to the Gnostics, these dudes were totally sci-fi. So in their concept (as far as I understand it), not only was the world get created maliciously, when that happened divine sparks got trapped inside human bodies. Jesus came to earth to give secret teachings that would free those who had sparks of divinity hidden in them. Frankly this seemed quite credible to me after watching “Universe”. Hey, it’s at least no more incredible than Genesis.

What I love about science and the study of the wider universe is that it gives me a different perspective and a new way of thinking about God. I find it invaluable.